BJP leader Raj Purohit has openly supported Uddhav Thackeray's threat to break Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam's teeth over his provocative remarks
There's a first time for everything. When Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray said that Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam's 'teeth should be broken' for having dared to make incendiary statements about North Indians in Maharashtra, the last sector from which he expected support was that of the BJP, which has hitherto maintained a safe distance from, and taken a neutral stand on any controversy involving the Shiv Sena and its troubled relationship with North Indians in the state.
But unexpectedly, the Mumbai BJP chief Raj Purohit was one of the first to leap to Thackeray's support. This has caused considerable surprise in political circles.
Nirupam had caused a furor in the political circles last week, with his comments that "North Indians can bring Mumbai to a halt."
Asked what his reactions were to Thackeray's threat, he said, "Regional parties exist in almost every state in India. They have their own issues to pursue in interest of the state where they originate. However, Shiv Sena is a regional party with a national vision and I support its reaction to Nirupam's statement."
An insider claimed that Purohit had made the unexpected show of solidarity while firmly keeping an eye on the upcoming BMC polls, where the two parties will seek a second term in power as an alliance.
The gesture may also be an attempt to return the favour extended by Uddhav, who has declared that he will lend strength to senior BJP leader LK Advani's rally on November 4, in the Mumbai leg of his ongoing jana chetna yatra.
Speaking at the BJP state headquarters, Purohit dubbed Nirupam's remarks as "irresponsible and exaggerated", stating that it was beneath the dignity of an MP to speak in such an offensive manner. Ironically, Purohit himself has received flak from the Sena quarters for having shown support for north Indians in Maharashtra, in the past. In April, when the BMC had launched a drive against illegal street food vendors, Purohit had come out in support of the vendors who were mostly north Indians.
Purohit said, "Every citizen of India is entitled to travel, live and work anywhere he wishes to in India. However, the local language and culture should be respected. Maharashtra is the only state in the country which has MLAs from states like Karnataka and Rajasthan."
In true blue Sena style, MLA Vinod Ghosalkar has announced his resignation from the Assembly, with the explicit intention of taking on the errant Nirupam in his own way. He claims that once he is unfettered from the code of conduct that the Assembly imposes on him, he will be able to tackle Nirupam in the characteristic ways of the Sena. A few blackened posters of Nirupam indicate that he means business.